Bentley’s hit from WLTP tests ‘close to catastrophic,’ CEO says

November 20, 2018 12:47 CET

LONDON — Bentley was too slow to ready its cars for Europe’s new WLTP testing regime, causing problems that were “close to catastrophic,” CEO Adrian Hallmark said.

Bentley lost 137 million euros in the first nine months compared with a small profit in the same period last year, according to the latest financial report from parent Volkswagen Group.

Hallmark said Bentley’s cars got “stuck in the queue” for testing under the WLTP regime introduced in the EU on Sept. 1.

“We were not quick enough unfortunately to book capacity or prioritize our derivatives within some of the group processes to get them certified on time,” he told Automotive News Europe.

The delay forced Bentley to push back the introduction of the plug-in hybrid version of the Bentaya SUV, which will now go on sale in March next year. Bentley delayed the Bentayga plug-in hybrid so it could test more of its volume models.

Hallmark said the testing delays impacted overall Bentayga sales by around 300-400 models.

“There has not been capacity around Europe to test all the derivatives so we have had to be ruthless in that prioritization,” Hallmark said.

WLTP also was one reason Bentley delayed the roll-out of the new Continental GT coupe, the brand’s best-selling model before the Bentayga’s introduction, Hallmark said.

WLTP, an abbreviation for Worldwide harmonized Light vehicles Test Procedure, replaced the NEDC (New European Driving Cycle) tests in the EU on Sept. 1.

VW Group’s financial report said the slow Continental GT launch and exchange rate problems were behind Bentley’s loss so far in 2018.

Bentley sources many of the parts used in its cars from continental Europe, making them more expensive when the pound is weak.

Bentley’s global sales were down 11 percent to 6,643 vehicles in the first nine months, company figures show.

Hallmark said the brand might post a profit in the fourth quarter and predicted a full-year profit next year. “This year is a conversion year to a better business model and next year you will start to see significant growth and a return to normality in terms of profit,” he said.

Hallmark joined Bentley as CEO six months ago after moving from Jaguar Land Rover.

You can reach Nick Gibbs at ngibbs@crain.com.

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